Anthony Morena, Founder and Principal of Mortar Group
As virus concerns and lockdowns prevented people from leaving their homes, many people began to work remotely, some for the first time. As a result, I saw apartments with flexible spaces and livable amenities become lifesavers for those who had them and highly sought-after by those who didn’t.
Some things will return to “normal,” but many changes that have occurred will likely have lasting impacts on the way we live and work. I believe people will seek clean and healthy environments in which to live, and for a significant portion of the population, remote work could be here to stay. This creates a new paradigm for apartment development in urban areas, where the home is no longer just a place to eat and sleep — but rather a flexible space in which residents can work, play, entertain and relax.
The result may be one of the few positive effects of Covid-19. We have amenities, apartment features and a new way of life that many learned they really enjoyed and want to keep.
Owners and developers of multifamily buildings can respond to this shift in residents’ priorities by developing projects or implementing value-adding strategies that focus on providing flexible, multi-use spaces and a robust set of building features and amenities.
Like a new menu of options and features, there are many strategies we can begin to implement. These concepts could create a better living space for our residents and add value to our assets.
• Flexible interiors to manage the new remote work environment: At the Mortar Group, we have begun to implement new movable wall systems into apartments that allow residents to customize their homes by opening up rooms or creating new working areas.
• Addition of co-working spaces in the building that are exclusive to residents, including conference areas, private working stations and better Wi-Fi.
• Addition of comfortable, affordable and furnished micro-apartments and co-living units.
• Using hidden spaces for work-home separation and more efficient home offices.
• Including private outdoor space for every household, such as balconies, terraces and rooftop decks.
• Designing more comfortable kitchens, utilizing modern appliances and enhancing seating areas or shared living spaces.
• Touchless entry systems.
• Sanitized entryways.
• Package lockers.
• Air purification with HEPA filtration.
• Communal gardens and meditation spaces.
• Outdoor kitchens.
• Designated areas for fitness, meditation or yoga.
• A clear focus on the mental health of residents.
By responding to the newest trends and market demands for flexible, safe and engaging apartments, owners can strengthen their buildings’ positions within the new economy and help prepare their assets for a swifter and more robust recovery to peak rental rates.
Working through the pandemic has been a change for both residents and building owners alike, but building owners can thrive and succeed in this new market by placing more focus on communication, being more present in their investments and hearing the needs of their residents. For new acquisitions or new buildings, owners and developers should expand traditional due diligence and give thought to their target market’s “new” needs before beginning a new project.